5 Quick Tips on Time Management for the Online Student – And More

May 23, 2024 | by Heidi Wells, Global Campus |     min read

Cindy Miller uses her time wisely putting in some work while at her favorite coffee shop in El Dorado, Arkansas. Miller graduated last year with a master's degree in educational technology delivered online.
Cindy Miller uses her time wisely putting in some work while at her favorite coffee shop in El Dorado, Arkansas. Miller graduated last year with a master's degree in educational technology delivered online.

People at the University of Arkansas talk a lot about student success. It’s one of three strategic priorities or pillars upon which the U of A’s mission is built. To foster success, the Student Success Center offers many services that students studying in online degree programs can access.

One key to success is good time management. Below are five quick tips and other information you can find on the U of A Student Success website:

  1. Goal-setting: You have to identify your goals first before you can work on them. “Getting a degree” is too big of a goal to be helpful, though. Break it down into smaller goals as you move through your degree program. Include in your goals check-ins with professors and advisors to be sure you are on track. The Student Success website offers a SMART goals worksheet and checklist you may find helpful.
  2. Prioritization: You will have to experiment and find what works best for you, but prevailing wisdom says it’s best to tackle the most difficult or highest priority tasks first. Getting those done gives you a sense of accomplishment. Break big projects into smaller pieces and start making progress right away so you aren’t overwhelmed by a ton to do with the deadline looming.
  3. Managing interruptions: Put your phone away. It’s hard but you can do it with practice. Mute notifications. Stop multitasking. Set a timer and give yourself breaks. During your break, get up and move a bit if you can. Find a quiet place – or a noisy place – based on the environment in which you work best.
  4. Procrastination: Try rewarding yourself with a break such as a favorite snack or an hour of TV or a podcast when you finish an assignment early. Ask for help if you’re stalling because you don’t know where to start. Work on an alternative belief to thinking you have to be perfect; just get something on paper.
  5. Scheduling: Make a master to-do list of everything, then break it down by deadlines so you don’t miss anything. Use a weekly planner that you update each week when your professor gives you your assignments. Make a to-do list each morning with what you can reasonably accomplish that day. The website offers a 168-hour time log, which is basically a spreadsheet that you can use to see where you’re spending your time, and instructions on how best to use it as a weekly calendar. It will help you figure out how to find more time. Studying at specified times each week helps you achieve your academic goals.

Other strategies include determining your learning style (the website includes a https://success.uark.edu/get-help/student-resources/learning-styles-assessment.pdf) so you’re not fighting your own personality, determining when you are most alert and effective (the website includes an energy cycle inventory in the time management section) and using that time wisely, and always having something with you to read such as glancing over notes while waiting at the doctor’s office or using your phone to read a discussion board post and compose a reply instead of scrolling social media.

The Student Success website offers many more resources that can help on your way to earning a degree delivered online. For more help, email success@uark.edu or call 479-575-3174.

By the way, the other two U of A strategic priorities are research excellence and being an employer of choice. Just in case you were wondering.

Photo of Heidi Wells

Heidi Wells

Content Strategist

Heidi Wells is the content strategist for the Global Campus at the University of Arkansas and editor of The Online Learner. Her writing spans more than 30 years as a communicator at the U of A and a reporter and editor at Arkansas newspapers. Wells earned two degrees from the U of A: a master's in 2013 and a bachelor's in 1988.

Wells can be reached at heidiw@uark.edu or 479-575-7239.

Online Learner Blog Home


Online Degree Programs

University of Arkansas ONLINE programs are designed by academic departments on the Fayetteville campus to offer you another path to earning a degree from a top-tier public research university. Online programs give you the flexibility to balance family, work and school responsibilities. You do not have to put your life on hold while working toward a better one.

Program Page